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Let's Talk About Root

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22 Nov 2019 10:02 #304448 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic Let's Talk About Root
The last time I played Vagabond was in a 3-player game as the Tinker. The other two wouldn't craft any items at all, and smacked me around like I owed them money. I did not win that one.

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22 Nov 2019 11:59 #304454 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Let's Talk About Root
Oof, yeah. 3p is not a player count I'd ever have a Vagabond in. I've done it but it's really not advisable. It's way too easy to shut them out at no real loss and much harder to fight an opponent whose territory won't immediately be seized by another player.

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22 Nov 2019 14:12 - 22 Nov 2019 14:13 #304462 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
The thing about Root that I do like, given the type of game it is, is that for most powers I find it generally easily readable who is somewhat behind and you should therefore be fine giving points to to boost yourself up. It's why I actually think it's a good thing the game is a VP track and VP win trigger (for most games).

Only possible exception is the Woodland Alliance who if in the right situation can really explode points, but I don't find that too opaque.
Last edit: 22 Nov 2019 14:13 by Gary Sax.
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22 Nov 2019 18:12 #304474 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Let's Talk About Root
Personally, I just don't think the Vagabond adds an interesting dynamic to the game. You can only interact with him in a very narrow manner which is to spend valuable actions to prevent him from winning. He has no real presence on the board and you can't really interact with his objectives. By the same token, he doesn't care about your presence on the board and won't normally interact with most of your actions.

I like Root more when the Vagabond is replaced by other factions.
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22 Nov 2019 19:58 #304478 by charlest
Replied by charlest on topic Let's Talk About Root
Oh man, have you ever entered into an alliance with a Vagabond? Totally changes the dynamic of the game. Wish it happened more often.
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22 Nov 2019 20:06 #304479 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Let's Talk About Root

charlest wrote: Oh man, have you ever entered into an alliance with a Vagabond? Totally changes the dynamic of the game. Wish it happened more often.

I personally haven't. I've seen a couple alliances but they did not come at a time they would have any meaningful impact so I can't comment.
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25 Nov 2019 11:36 #304536 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Let's Talk About Root
I have played Root a total of three times now. I have played every faction from the base game except for the cats. I have gotten better at the game, but still struggle every time because the mechanics feel counter-intuitive and gamey. It's a tolerable game but I will never actively seek out or request a game of Root because I just don't find it to be especially entertaining. The disconnect between mechanics and theme makes playing the game uncomfortable, and the whole crafting aspect feels like it is artificially grafted onto the rest of the game. I feel like the extreme asymmetry is more of a gimmick than an enhancement of the game, and tend to enjoy other games where the asymmetry is less pronounced, like in Dune or even Cosmic Encounter. When asymmetrical factions are still basically playing the same core game, there tends to be more direct competition and interaction. Extremely asymmetrical factions tend to reduce interaction significantly because players are doing different things that are less likely to result in either direct competition or direct cooperation. Root does things that do lead to some interaction, but it feels forced by the rules and not a natural result of direct competition for the same goals.
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07 Dec 2019 13:25 - 07 Dec 2019 14:02 #304875 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Played two games within the last couple weeks.

The first was with myself as the Cats, one relatively new player as the Birds, a brand new player as the Woodland Alliance, and a second time player as the Vagabond. This played out similar to a lot of early games, with the WA player struggling to get his engine going, the Cats starting out strong and failing, and the birds being slow and steady. The Tinker/Vagabond won with everyone else sitting at about 20, without ever killing anyone.


The next game was way more unique. Two relatively experienced players took the cats and birds, while I tried the Riverfolk Company for the first time.

The cat player surprised me by doing next to no crafting, opting instead to build just one sawmill and focus almost entirely on building recruitment centers to tech up on cards and have greater board presence. He'd play a bird card nearly every turn to get additional actions, which would be Overwork more often than I typically do it.
The Eyrie player took the double-recruit guy, who is his favorite, but failed to notice that one of the places he was attacking only had one build spot, so he went into turmoil around turn 4.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to learn the ropes as L'otters, and no one bought cards or anything from me on turn one, largely because they weren't accustomed to doing it. So I lowered my prices to 1 on everything just to see if that could entice them... even though I had 3 bird cards out! It did, the Eyrie bought one card, thus stiffing me on my opportunity to get the 2 free "protection" guys into my payments box and slowing me down even more. Lesson learned- always make cards at least 2 if you have any bird cards.

After that, the Birds who had started in the lower left, opted to play the 3-fox dominance card for the win, and proceeded to go into turmoil a few times, but didn't care because of the points. Since I had fewer points and the cats had so many troops and the last turn before each bird turn by seating order, it fell to them to make sure the birds didn't win. I tried to play war profiteer by sticking 4 guys in that 5-spoke fox territory, and ratcheted my price up to 3 for mercenaries. It worked a little, but I didn't have enough funds to just sit on my funds until the cats were already at 20 points and I was at 15. Cats won in a slow grindy game that took nearly two and a half hours. This was the first time I've seen the cats win since some of my early two player games with my wife v. my inexperienced birds.

I do find the Riverfolk very interesting though, and would like to try them again, especially in a 4 player game.
Last edit: 07 Dec 2019 14:02 by Jexik.
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22 Dec 2019 09:55 - 22 Dec 2019 10:14 #305427 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Last night I tried them again in a 4 player game, with players who all had at least 4 games under their belt, including one guy who had won all of his 4 games that he had played. He was playing the WA, the guy who played the Cats in my last game was the Birds, and someone else was the Cats.

The Marquise de Cat bought a card from me nearly every turn, for 2-3 warriors (and 4 on the last round), and won pretty handily. The general thrust of the game was that everyone beat down the WA for the first 2 rounds, while the birds had a very slow start for failing to put a Build card out (despite my desperate pleas to just buy a bird card from me, he didn't want to go into turmoil from over-recruitment later). Cats did cat stuff powered by additional cards from my hand.

When the WA bought a card from my hand too, I sat on 6 funds that round for 3 points, and tried to do it again a second time but got a trading post axed by the cats. A round or two later I got revenge and destroyed his base and another territory, but it was too late. Final score: Cats 30, WA 25, Riverfolk 21, Eyrie 17. Cats only had 2 warriors on the board on the final round, built a sawmill for 0, overworked, built a second for 1 to get the last point they needed to win.

My general feeling after these two games is that the Riverfolk Company lightens the load on the cats, because they have the warrior surplus to make use of their cards. I imagine the Lizard Cult with their 25 warriors would behave similarly. I could have really put the screws to the WA when they bought a bird card for 3 warriors if I wanted to, but I released them when I lost my trading post, instead of releasing cat Warriors. I'll also point out that the Birds were in last by a lot and never once bought a service from me.
Last edit: 22 Dec 2019 10:14 by Jexik.
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23 Dec 2019 00:33 #305441 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
With so many people purchasing from you I'm sort of suprised you didn't do better.

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23 Dec 2019 21:22 #305460 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
The Birds and WA were kind of battling each other in the south, largely ignoring the Cats, so it came to me to have to fight them, which was expensive to do. The game wasn't terribly long. Maybe 8 or 9 rounds?
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05 Jan 2020 10:42 - 05 Jan 2020 10:44 #305781 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Eight more plays in as many days, mostly 2 and 3p.

2p games are really quick, in the 30 minute range.

Taught a friend, let's call him Phil, because that's his name. We played two games as Cats v. Birds, with us alternating sides and him winning both times. I must be a great teacher! Also he's a smart guy and the second game was 30 to 28, with him building up to 29 points during his crafting step as the birds, going into turmoil, then getting exactly 30 from his roosts after losing points, it was hilarious! We played a 3rd with my WA taking down his cats. In hindsight, we both decided that he should eschew the usual "recruitment" strategy and try to race on points harder with Sawmills and Workshops when up against JUST the WA.

The following day I taught my 17 year old nephew how to play, also alternating cats v. birds. My birds snowballed and ran out of control, while his unfortunately went into turmoil pretty hard. I probably explained the game less well this time. He did think the game was cool and expressed interest in trying again as the Vagabond in a larger game.

I also played one game against the 9 year old that same weekend. His cats v. my birds. Birds won pretty handily, but he didn't complain at all, instead relishing the points in time where he wiped me out of certain areas.

Two 3p games last night, with Phil, and teaching another guy named Phil. First game was Phil 1's cats v. P2's birds v. my Riverfolk. P1 and I were neck and neck about half the game, until he went for a dominance victory which changed the texture of everything. I started my first turn with 2 bird cards (lucky) so managed to get 6 funds in the payment box on turn 1, in part because P2 would have gone into turmoil if he didn't buy! (Had no way to move out of his base, with a triple fox hand). P2 was also slow to turn to build roosts, so his scoring didn't really pick up until it was too late. I eventually squeaked out a win, as P1 was starting to get a bit tipsy and forgot he had an ambush card which would have stopped my last minute dash for points.

Second Phil game had P1 playing Vagabond, P2 trying out the Lizards (my first time seeing them in action), and myself trying the WA. That's right, we tried all new stuff. And the new ecosystem worked... it just didn't care about the board in the same way. I'd put new bases out only to have them get converted, but I'd spring up again and spend cards to generate more officers. Vagabond got to around 20 points and Lizards 18 when I jumped from about 24 to the win. The Lizards had just scored 12 points the turn before, since neither of us were pressuring his gardens, so it was nearly anyone's game.

The more I play the more I think the factions are pretty balanced, although I admit that I've not played the lizards much... and still haven't played with those balance errata. I really should print them out.
Last edit: 05 Jan 2020 10:44 by Jexik.
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05 Jan 2020 11:59 #305783 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
Wow, getting that many quick reps in of a game that requires multiple plays sounds like a blast.
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17 Jan 2020 00:28 #306304 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root

Gary Sax wrote: Wow, getting that many quick reps in of a game that requires multiple plays sounds like a blast.



Aaand 3 more games in the last week or so. All 3p, with different players. 5/6 brand new to the game.

My birds. Kid's Vagabond, his uncle's Cats for his first game. The uncle just loves cats and wanted to be them. Kid wanted something different, and apparently to just hand me fistfuls of cards on to an easy win. He didn't quite get that he needed 10 points and to go with the losing side to do the whole coalition victory thing, but he took it as a win of a kind.

My Birds. Mom's Cats. Dad's Woodland Alliance. They had seen me play with the kid and wanted to see what it was all about. This game involved HEAVY coaching as my parents haven't really played anything more complicated than Catan or Pinochle. My dad was sitting at 23 points, and with his 4 actions... he could just go ahead and yeah... get two more sympathy and 7 more points for the exact win. First game for both of them, and they liked it well enough and are willing to play again, but they both noted it'll be awhile before they can really play independently. At 73 and 80, they kind of just like having an activity beyond watching cable news channels and cop shows all the time. The aesthetic really pulls people in compared to other games of this complexity.

A father & son (in his twenties) duo at game night. Veterans of TI and other complex and bloodthirsty games. They totally dug it, with the father playing the cats, son playing the birds, and me using my favorite Riverfolk. Son had to use my services early and often to avoid turmoil, as his dad actually just flat out retreated on turn one to try to make him unable to initiate a battle. I didn't say anything during this retreat- I thought it was a novel tactic and wanted to see how it would play out. Cat dad also would build Workshops and then abandon them, hoping to rebuild them for a low wood-high points ratio on scoring. Weird stuff. Meanwhile I wheeled and dealed my way out to be slightly ahead of the birds and equal to the cats, and then exploded to about 26 points with a bunch of trading posts and playing "Favor of the Rabbits" to kill like 13 birds at once. Dad saw it coming but didn't say anything. I got a high five. On the following round after I saw my trading posts all get wiped from the board, I built my 9th trading post and bought a card.... just the sword I needed to craft with my remaining 2 funds to get that win.
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17 Jan 2020 09:41 - 17 Jan 2020 09:46 #306313 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root

Jexik wrote: My Birds. Mom's Cats. Dad's Woodland Alliance. They had seen me play with the kid and wanted to see what it was all about. This game involved HEAVY coaching as my parents haven't really played anything more complicated than Catan or Pinochle. My dad was sitting at 23 points, and with his 4 actions... he could just go ahead and yeah... get two more sympathy and 7 more points for the exact win. First game for both of them, and they liked it well enough and are willing to play again, but they both noted it'll be awhile before they can really play independently. At 73 and 80, they kind of just like having an activity beyond watching cable news channels and cop shows all the time. The aesthetic really pulls people in compared to other games of this complexity.


This is wild and amazing Jexik. I can't even imagine. My parents are this age or so too.

Also, the third game sounds amazing. I've never heard someone say their riverfolk won, that's so cool. I can't wait to get my 1st expansion as well as the 2nd one, it'll all be new to me.
Last edit: 17 Jan 2020 09:46 by Gary Sax.

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